William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats was third-generation Irish, born in Dublin on June 13, 1865. From day one he was up against a wall regarding his religious beliefs, for his grandfather was a deeply Orthodox Rector in the Church of England, while his father was a complete religious skeptic. With this conflict already in place, young William walked the very fine line of between faith and disbelief.
Being faced with this dilema, Yeats was destined to find the balance by whatever means necessary. This first step occurred after reading numerous text on the subjects of Occultism, the Tibetan Mysteries, Buddhism, and other beliefs. All of these subjects ignited his desire to learn and to know. Aside from his readings, what further expanded his desire was his discovery of a society purporting to be Ancient and non-European. This new movement simply called The Theosophical Society, claimed to have the ability to offer a "synthesis" of religion, science, and philosophy. For at that particular time in human development, none of these three disciplines were ready to integrate with the other, but this is what fascinated Yeats. This is what he longed for.
Upon hearing of the Society, Yeats soon met the founder, Madame Helene Blavatsky, and was very intrigued by her. After many metaphysical conversations with her and many hours of long thought on the issue, Yeats took one of his first steps on his path of occult wisdom, and joined the famed Theosophical Society of London. The Society provided Yeats with a kind of outlet that he needed to express his thoughts and feelings that the Victorian society of the time might have considered risque or improper. After attending various Theosophical meetings, Yeats felt at home.
William felt this way at least on an outside level. But deep on the inside, his heart had another desire that the Society could never touch. Being around others who shared similar lines of thinking was a step in the right direction for Yeats, but he realized that there was more to all this learned knowledge than just plain talk. With the thoughts in his mind forming very strongly, Yeats was once again yearning for more than what his universe had revealed.
But soon after this discovery was made, Yeats also discovered that fellow members of the Theosophical society felt the same. It was at this point that Madame Blavatsky was approached by such people, asking for more. She obliged, and formed an additional branch to the Society called, "The Esoteric Section." This branch of the Society dared to venture into the area of magic and hoped to prove to others that Occult phenomena is possible. This was the answer to Yeats prayers, (to an extent). In addition, the E.S. assured everyone that they would not actually be practicing magic but would be undergoing the necessary magical training before magical power was entrusted to the student.
Such magical training consisted of the learning of magical and esoteric symbols, correspondences, creating interrelationships between the seasons, various parts of the body, the five elements, colors, numbers, etc.
As fulfilling as all of this new knowledge and experience was, Yeats soon lost hope in this new branch, due to the fact that all experiments performed by the E.S. were quite unsuccessful. Several took place; raising the ghost of a flower, evoking a dream by use of a symbol under the dreamer's pillow, all of which failed. Once again, Yeats felt that something was missing. After witnessing many failures and only minimal success, Yeats lost hope in this new branch, and felt it was time to continue on, rather than stay stagnant. This led to his discovery of another society, which many of his friends in the T.S. were joining. This new organization was beautifully titled,
"The Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn."
The Golden Dawn satisfied Yeat's need to dig into his
very core, and unleash what has been buried for so long. As Yeats soon
discovered, the Golden Dawn Incorporated traditional European Cabalistic
Magic and astrology, as opposed to the wisdom of the East. In addition,
the Golden Dawn encouraged exploration and wielding of power (over the
material universe, unlike Blavatsky who constantly warned students against
the practice of phenomena and oftentimes discouraged it altogether.) This
highly pleased Yeats, and allowed him to open his magical aspirations
to as high as he would go.
Grow out of that foul blood, is magical
Yeats continued his search for knowledge of that which
is not written for man to read. But like all things, life comes to an
end. His accomplished life ended when the Sun entered Aquarius on January
28th, 1939. Roqueborne, South France was where he took his last breath.
A last breath that would be long remembered by those in the world of literature,
and the thousands who are thinking with a Western Mind.